The Corner

Why Will No One Defend Marty Peretz?

One of the more interesting aspects of that JournoList thing is that none of the Heathers will really come to his defense. Jonathan Chait, who comes across as the most grown-up, mostly just points to the bad form of trash talking in the man’s absence. But you can at least tell his heart’s in the right place. Anyway, here’s the “money quote” from Peretz that nearly all of the Heathers feel is “f***ing racist” and proof that he’s a “Crazy-A** Racist”:

“Well, I am extremely pessimistic about Mexican-American relations, not because the U.S. had done anything specifically wrong to our southern neighbor but because a (now not quite so) wealthy country has as its abutter a Latin society with all of its characteristic deficiencies: congenital corruption, authoritarian government, anarchic politics, near-tropical work habits, stifling social mores, Catholic dogma with the usual unacknowledged compromises, an anarchic counter-culture and increasingly violent modes of conflict. Then, there is the Mexican diaspora in America, hard-working and patriotic but mired in its untold numbers of illegals, about whom no one can talk with candor.”

The “near-tropical work habits” line is unfortunate. But is this whole thing really so beyond the pale? If it is, no wonder it’s hard to have that long-overdue conversation about race people keep talking about.

But it’s pretty clear that racism — real or alleged — isn’t the real issue. These guys hate Marty, hate TNR (no doubt in part because some of them couldn’t get jobs there), and are willing to use racism against their own the same way they use it against conservatives: as a branding tool against heretics.

Personally, I don’t feel the need to carry a lot of water for Martin Peretz (nor The New Republic, which has hardly been kind to me recently). I don’t think we’ve ever met, though we did talk on the phone once over a decade ago. I’ve zinged him quite a bit about his over-the-top support for Al Gore over the years, too. But I’m really quite surprised no one will defend the man from the charge that he’s a “f***ing racist.” Not just a racist, mind you but a f***ing one. The man has devoted decades of his life to keeping the flagship liberal publication afloat. He’s at the center of the liberal-academic-journalistic establishment. And yet where are his defenders?

I mean, doesn’t this silence amount to shocking ingratitude from lots and lots of people who owe their careers to the man? Shouldn’t the alumni of TNR — and they are not lacking for outlets to express themselves — mount something of a defense?

Fascinating stuff.

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